tv Book Discussion on When Lions Roar CSPAN December 26, 2014 4:02am-5:31am EST
and that was the first book that i learned on my english papers. and the other thing that i learned was the imaginary map of the world that i realize that i could stay in a small room of mine in the middle of the day. and then about america, he would also take me to movies every weekend, the end of the week. and we would see egyptian movies, turkish movies, french movies, american movies, and with the american movies the thing i remembered were the musicals. because people are politely sitting and eating, and in the middle of eating they all of a sudden get up and sing. [laughter] you know, sing and dance and go up the poles and do weird things and then come back and sit and eat. [laughter] and soon enough americans and persians and others were doing the same thing. so anyway, it was that world,
that america that i turned to. and i want to end by saying that it was very hard to choose these books, because i had, you know, we are all promiscuous when it comes to art. we have so many lovers, you know? and we are allowed to. and so what happened was that i had 24 books. i couldn't do it, i had to condense it to books that would express my feelings. and the books that i chose were i realized how the american novel, the american fiction goes exactly against that class materialism of american dream. there are two sides to this dream, two contradictory sides to this dream. and the fact that most of the influential american heroes are outcasts and strangers, not just in huck finn, but even in the mystery tales in that magnificent writer named raymond
chandler. they are, quote-unquote, little people, ordinary people who do not want material success. they are, in henry james' words, perfectly equipped failures. and i wanted to talk about them beginning with huck finn because i think huck finn is america's literary declaration of independence. and i felt that at the end of huck finn that people started moving out and going to other landscapes of america. so babbitt becomes the anti-huck which is the standardization of thought. that is what is really threatening us today, indifference, sleeping consciousness which is all the things that is talked about. okay. and then carson -- [inaudible] and then, of course, the great, the incomparable james baldwin who was not just a writer, not
just an african-american writer, not just a gay african-american writer, not just an american writer, but a writer. who speaks to all of us and who's so important today. and i think we should remember baldwin. i don't have time to go into it. and i want to end by a quote from mark twain. mark twain gives a talk to what he calls the mayflower tribes, the descendants of the mayflower. tongue in cheek as always and magnificent as always, he tells them: you guys deprived me of my ancestors. he begins with the first native american. he goes through quakers, through witches, and he ends with the slaves. and he says these are all my ancestors, for i am an exquisite, many-shaded mongrel.
and that is the america i want to live in, the land of exquisite, many-shaded mongrels who, like that little kid named huck finn, decided that he will go with his heart against his deformed conscience, and he would save his friend jim and risk going to hell but doing the right thing. and that is the question i wanted to leave you with: how many of us today would rather go to hell but listen to our heart and do the right thing? thank you so much for your patience and thank you. [appla